As Subaru‘s only 2-wheel-drive model, the 2020 Subaru BRZ is something special. Sharing its platform with the Toyota 86, the BRZ is a throwback to when small, light, 2-door coupes were the performance car of choice. The BRZ is a joint venture between Subaru and Toyota, with Subaru providing much of the mechanicals, including the flat-four boxer engine and 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Not as powerful as the WRX, but not as heavy or lumbering as the Ford Mustang or the Chevrolet Camaro, the BRZ offers a different type of performance driving experience — one that requires a bit more finesse when working the gearbox, accelerator pedal and steering wheel.
The BRZ isn’t for everyone, however. Although it has a small back seat, the BRZ’s cabin is really only fit for two passengers. Technophiles probably won’t be impressed with the lack of a high-powered audio system. But if you’re looking for a fun sports coupe with great road manners, a wonderful 6-speed manual transmission and sleek good looks, the 2020 Subaru BRZ deserves at least a couple of test drives.
What’s New for 2020?
2020 marks the return of the limited-edition BRZ tS. Created by STI, this BRZ, limited to 300 models, features STI-tuned SACHS dampers, a stiffer suspension and Brembo brakes. Painted an exclusive ceramic white, the tS is distinguished by its matte bronze-finished 18-in wheels, low-profile spoiler and cherry blossom red accents around the grille and rear bumper. Inside, Alcantara seat inserts are flanked by red leather bolsters; red seat belts and a cast black center console complete the look. There is no base-model BRZ this year, leaving the Limited and tS as the sole trim selections. See the 2020 Subaru BRZ models for sale near you
What We Like
- Balanced chassis
- Communicative steering
- Comfy front seats
- Seductive styling
- Reasonably well-equipped for the price
What We Don’t
- Underpowered engine
- No high-output audio system
- Cramped rear seat
- No advanced driver assist or collision avoidance systems
The Subaru BRZ is powered by a 2.0-liter boxer engine, meaning its pistons lie on their sides in a horizontally opposing configuration. The naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine generates 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque with the 6-speed automatic transmission and 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the 6-speed manual. With the manual, the BRZ gets an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 21 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving. With the 6-speed automatic, fuel economy jumps to 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
Subaru offers the 2020 BRZ in two well-equipped trims: the Limited and tS. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on each; a 6-speed automatic with manual shift control is offered on the Limited for an additional $1,195.
The BRZ Limited ($29,745) includes heated front seats, heated side mirrors, cruise control, one-touch power windows, power door locks with a remote fob, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, a 65/35 split folding rear seat, a limited-slip rear differential, LED headlights, a rear spoiler, 17-in alloy wheels, LED fog lights, Alcantara and leather seat inserts, a push-button start, illuminated sun visor vanity mirrors, a 7-in STARLINK multimedia navigation system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and dual-zone automatic climate control. A 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is optional. Cars equipped with the manual transmission offer a Performance package that adds Brembo brakes and SACHS performance dampers.
The BRZ tS ($32,395) includes all the features of the Limited with the Performance package and adds 18-in wheels, an STI-enhanced suspension, unique paint and interior trim and a frameless rearview mirror. Limited to a run of just 300 cars, the tS probably won’t be on the showroom floor for long.
Every BRZ comes standard with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction, stability control and six airbags, including front, front-side and side-curtain airbags. In government crash tests, the BRZ scored a 4-star rating in the frontal crash test and 5-star rating in the side-impact and roof-strength tests.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the BRZ top marks in every test except the front small-overlap front crash test, in which it earned an Acceptable rating.
Behind the Wheel
With only 156 lb-ft of torque, the manual BRZ isn’t going to deliver the same neck-snapping acceleration as the WRX or the WRX STI. But if you get the revs up over 5,000 rpm and really work the 6-speed manual, the BRZ will bring a smile to your face every time you take it for a spin, thanks to its lightweight chassis. Driving the BRZ reminds us of another old favorite: the Mazda RX-8. Wonderfully neutral in the curves, with precise steering, great brakes and tenacious traction, the BRZ is the kind of car you want to push through winding mountain roads for hours on end.
Best of all, the BRZ is easy to live with for everyday drivers. Its ride isn’t too harsh or jarring, the gas mileage is pretty good and its maintenance schedule is no more expensive than that of the average family sedan.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Ford Mustang — The Mustang can’t match the BRZ’s handling, but its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offers more power and more interior features.
2020 Chevrolet Camaro — Like the Mustang, the Camaro offers more power and a more masculine look than the BRZ. But it’s also noticeably heavier, offers poor outward visibility and is less agile when turning. The 2020 Camaro also offers the option of a turbocharged 4-cylinder or a V6 engine.
2020 Toyota 86 — Nearly identical to the BRZ, the Toyota 86 offers a few more options, brighter colors and a larger dealer network.
Used Nissan 370Z — A 2014-2018 Nissan 370Z is a sleek, 2-seat rear-wheel drive sports car that offers better performance, a more powerful engine and the option of a convertible model.
The deletion of the Premium trim doesn’t really leave you with much of a choice. The Limited has everything you need, but if you’re lucky enough to snag the limited-run tS model, you’ll certainly have bragging rights when it comes to uniqueness. Find a Subaru BRZ for sale